Converting a Swedish tunic

German uniforms, clothing, and awards 1919-1945.

Moderator: John W. Howard

Post Reply
Terje
Supporter
Posts: 123
Joined: Sat Feb 22, 2003 9:28 am
Location: Norway

Converting a Swedish tunic

Post by Terje » Thu May 01, 2003 2:56 pm

Well, with my fun budget being what it is, I want to convert a Swedish tunic to look as 1940 Wehrmacht as best as I can. I guess that means removing the backside pockets, buying and sewing on the correct buttons, cutting the collar to size and then - recoloring the lightgreyish jacket to something more correct. How do I achieve something like feldgrau - or should I even go for straight green?

There must have been many others who have done this. What did you do, exactly? (And what was the tunic model you started out with?)

Regards;
Terje

User avatar
Craig
Banned
Posts: 244
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 3:18 am
Location: Australia

Post by Craig » Thu May 01, 2003 5:59 pm

G'day,

I dyed mine with RIT green dye. Wait until it dries before you decide if it is too green or too grey. If it is too green, just stick it in a bucket of hot water for a minute or two to weaken the dye and then dry it out again. Eventually you should get a good green/grey color. I have also mixed small amounts of Black dye in to get a slightly darker mix.

It's not a difficult process and as the dye washes out easily in hot water any mistakes you make can be rectified.

You will have trouble with the uppermost button hole. The Swedish tunics have this in the exact spot where you will have to trim the tunic down to give it a straighter cut to match the German type.

As for what model tunic to start with, well I don't know what model Swedish tunics are available but from what I have seen there are 3 different ones. One has cotton sections sown into the armpit, you should use these ones only if you cant get the ones without it. Another type has a much larger collar and just doesn't look right, the one I have is a 1941 model, it will be used for hats. The only other one I have seen (late war I think) is one that is pretty close to the German style but even then you will still have to do a lot of work.
Don't be put off by people saying that good conversions of Swedish tunics are impossible becasue it can be done and done well if you are patient and have some skill with the sewing machine and needle and thread.

Good luck,

Craig
HISTORY IS WRITTEN BY THE FASTEST RUNNER!

Terje
Supporter
Posts: 123
Joined: Sat Feb 22, 2003 9:28 am
Location: Norway

re: swedish conversion

Post by Terje » Fri May 02, 2003 3:29 am

I'm not sure what RIT means but green dye sounds simple enough. The Swedish jacket I can get hold of seem to have the overlarge collar; I was hoping I could cut it down to size. I'm aware of the topmost button problem, but what I was thinking to do was simply make a new button hole?

What really worries me is the backside pockets; I need to look at the jacket again but I worry that they cannot be removed without causing major damage.

At this point I am not worried about minor errors in the result; eventually I hope to be rich enough to buy a proper replica. Or to stumble over a real one in some backwater fleamarket (ever the optimist).

- Terje

User avatar
Craig
Banned
Posts: 244
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2002 3:18 am
Location: Australia

Post by Craig » Fri May 02, 2003 8:07 pm

The rear pockets can be removed without any permanent damage.

The top most button hole is roughly in the spot where the tunic needs to be cut, right in the middle in fact so you will end up with half a button hole that needs some pretty skilful stitching to hide although you could pass it off as a battlefeild repair. Putting in a new button hole is the easy part.

RIT is just a brand name.

Other things to be done are the splits and buttons in the sleeves as well as the split in the rear.

Cheers
HISTORY IS WRITTEN BY THE FASTEST RUNNER!

User avatar
Lustmolch
Supporter
Posts: 133
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 10:00 am
Location: UK

German from Swedish

Post by Lustmolch » Thu May 15, 2003 10:07 am

I have chopped these tunics about in my time and have some tips:

Try to get the tunics without the cotton reinforcement in the armpit as the sleeves do not appear to hang right once this has been removed (unless you are a master tailor and can alter the arm holes).

The rear pockets are easy to remove. I use a scalpel with a new blade in (watch your fingers!) and cut the threads while pulling the pocket gently away from the tunic. This puts tension on the threads and makes them easier to cut.

Save the pockets as they can be used for the front.

The tunic with large collar - does it lack breast pockets? If so, these make acceptible Great War M1910 (modified) fieldblouses. Put 4 extra buttonholes in the front (work out spacing from existing ones) and they look OK though you can go to town on them if you wish (I have one in semi complete state waiting for me to summon the enthusiasm to tackle it again).

The lower pockets on the tunic skirt will need removing as they are the interior type. Takes ages to get out but patience and care will remove them without tearing the fabric of the tunic. Press the skirt once the pocket is out to flatten out the slit. I then usually back this with a piece of scrap material and zigzag stitch the slit for strength. When the new pocket is in place it usually can't be seen.

The cuffs need opening and a piece of material added to make them operable.

The rear seam on the tunic requires the reinforcing line of stitching cutting and the seam pressed flat. As it is to begin with, it looks like the seams found on battledress blouses. Original German tunics had the rear panel in one piece but this technique will disguise the seam somewhat.

If you can gain access to an original tunic then draw yourself some diagrams and take measurements of things like pockets, cuff details and so on, so you can make patterns. If no original tunic is forthcoming, then East German or Bundeswehr tunics have a similar pocket arrangement to WWII but usually no operable cuffs.

Don't forget to shorten the bottom of the tunic skirt at the Swedish one is too long as it is. (A lot of wartime tunics had the skirt considerably shortened, sometimes necessitating the repositioning of the lower pockets, this appeared to be a fashion of the time).

Technically you should reposition the button holes for accuracy's sake but I generally leave this alone as being too fiddly, likewise the collars.


Probably the easiest way to work on these tunics is to dismantle them into their component parts and rebuild them, incorporating modifications as you go. It is a lot easier than trying to manhandle a complete tunic through the machine.

Shoulder strap loops can be made from scrap or taken from Swedish army trousers (belt loops).

This is not a comprehensive list but a decent tunic should result.

I also referred to as many pictures as I could when building mine as there are differences in cut depending upon where it was made.

User avatar
Lustmolch
Supporter
Posts: 133
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 10:00 am
Location: UK

Post by Lustmolch » Tue Jul 15, 2003 9:17 am

Last week I was sent the new Soldier of Fortune Re enactor's catalogue. They are advertising replica German tunics from the Band of Brothers TV series at about £125 a piece. From the looks of the picture, they are Swedish tunics with replacement pockets (a colour mismatch is noticeable), buttons replaced (but not repositioned) and replica litzen, eagle and shoulderboards added. I don't know if any other alterations have been done, I wouldn't have thought so as by and large, they would have been worn by extras and only seen in the distance.

N B If you are intending to use your tunic for re enactment, be warned that a lot of the established groups expect 100% authenticity, so "home mades" might be frowned upon. Other groups are less exacting (and I think have more fun!) :D

User avatar
Rodger Herbst
Associate
Posts: 648
Joined: Tue May 04, 2004 5:47 am

Post by Rodger Herbst » Tue Aug 26, 2003 1:59 pm

Just finished reading stormtrooper put out by Military Illustrated they list several re-enaction societies in the US and UK.They say good quality clothing is now manufactued some in the US some i imagine in the UK.

Michael Dorosh
Supporter
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2002 12:06 am
Location: Calgary, AB

Post by Michael Dorosh » Tue Aug 26, 2003 5:47 pm

I've used Tintex Forest Green dye on Swedish tunics to very good effect. Another thing - make sure all the grey wool on the tunic matches; the lower pockets on mine were from a set of trousers, and it looked ok before the dye job - looked terrible after as the wool turned out wildly different colours.

I have to be honest and say that Swedish tunics never really cut it for me; the breast pockets aren't even close to being correct, and you would have to be extremely skillful to do bellows pockets on the skirt. You might be able to do an M43; I did this with one Swedish tunic; the patch pockets are easier, and you can skillfully pull apart the breast pockets (leaving one side sewn to the tunic), iron them flat, cut off the excess material, and stitch it back down to make an acceptable M43 style breast (patch type) pocket.

The colour would also be easier to match to an M43, uniform cloth then being grayer and browner. You could probably get away with not dying it at all, making matching wool less of a problem. If they come with the back pockets already on, so much the better.

Bear in mind also that many re-enactment socities forbid Swedish conversions. They are seen as the mark of an amateur (or a cheapskate!) Unfortunately inexpensive repros aren't easy to get.

Michael Dorosh
Supporter
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Oct 01, 2002 12:06 am
Location: Calgary, AB

Post by Michael Dorosh » Tue Aug 26, 2003 5:49 pm

And to be perfectly honest, there are some great tailors in Pakistan and India who do German repros - insignia, uniforms, headdress - and could do a wool jacket for about 40 dollars US. I suspect some of the suppliers in the US who pretend to get their stuff from Europe (and charge 300 dollars a tunic) are getting stuff from Pakistan.

Many militaries get a lot of regalia from Pakistan because labor is so cheap.

User avatar
Rodger Herbst
Associate
Posts: 648
Joined: Tue May 04, 2004 5:47 am

Post by Rodger Herbst » Tue Aug 26, 2003 7:17 pm

It wouldn't surprise me that they could also make the weapons.

Terje
Supporter
Posts: 123
Joined: Sat Feb 22, 2003 9:28 am
Location: Norway

The uniform has arrived

Post by Terje » Fri Sep 12, 2003 3:53 am

Well, yesterday I finally got the right Swedish tunic (and pants) for the conversion job. It's 1943-dated and has two outer chest pockets, two inner front skirt pockets and two outer back skirt pockets. No shoulder board straps, no sleeve dividers, no back split, no belt hangers and all wrong buttons, but otherwise the uniform is in mint shape and should be perfect for conversion into a 1940-model german tunic.

First of all guys, keep in mind that I am no tailor. Second, I will most likely never get to be in a reenactment even in this kit - not where I live - ; it's for my own private pleasure and collection only so I am not going to be hit upon by other reenactors or expert collectors who will rip my throat off for having a kit that is only 99% correct. I'll be working on this uniform when time permits and with what skills and money I have.

In addition to the Swedish uniform I have a chest eagle patch, a gebirgsjager sleeve patch, a couple of sets of shoulder boards and ten silvery German buttons (4+4+2). Nothing of this is original but it'll do for this set.

Before I start adapting anything I will take photos of this uniform in its initial shape and put links to the pics in my next posting.

Terje
Supporter
Posts: 123
Joined: Sat Feb 22, 2003 9:28 am
Location: Norway

And now, the pictures

Post by Terje » Sun Sep 14, 2003 10:57 am

What I am posting here are pictures of the Swedish tunics I have bought for the conversion job. Since I can only post links here I have started a discussion about the same theme on the milcol forum, where pics can be posted. The links below go straight to the pics and not to the discussions.

The next pictures are of the first Swedish tunic I bought. I am not going to convert it now I have a superior set, but have mentioned it earlier so I thought you might be interested in seeing it. The tunic will most likely be sold as is now, if any ww1 reenactors may be interested.
http://www.milcol.net/forum/index.php?a ... st&id=3645
http://www.milcol.net/forum/index.php?a ... st&id=3646

Here is the chosen tunic. It's dated 1943.
http://www.milcol.net/forum/index.php?a ... st&id=3647
http://www.milcol.net/forum/index.php?a ... st&id=3648
http://www.milcol.net/forum/index.php?a ... st&id=3649
http://www.milcol.net/forum/index.php?a ... st&id=3650
http://www.milcol.net/forum/index.php?a ... st&id=3651

And now, a recap:
Target: to build a close copy of the tunic worn by the gebirgsjagers of the 3rd Division during their attack on Narvik in April 1940. I have not decided on the rank yet, but will go with either a private or a corporal.

This is my initial list of things that will or should be done. Before the job starts I would be quite interested in having your feedback on it.

Note: 'right' and 'left' are directions in relation to the front of the wearer, seen from the wearer's POV.

1. The collar needs to be colored dark green.
2. A Wehrmacht eagle and swastika must be sewn above the right pocket.
3. An edelweiss patch must be sewn on the right arm.
4. All buttons must be replaced by German ones.
5. Back pockets must be moved around to the front and be sewn over the existing ones.
6. Belt hooks should be added.
7. The arm sleeves must be opened 10-12 cm's and hav a strap and button attached.
8. The back middle seam should be opened about 15 cm's.
9. Shoulder board straps must be sewn on, with corresponding buttons.
10. shoulder boards must be put on.

Okay, what have I forgotten?

Post Reply